Apropos of New Year’s Eve, Flavorwire’s Emily Temple collected 20 Excellent Photos of Famous Authors Partying. Temple did an awesome job but I submit that she missed the shot below of George Plimpton, the charming and erudite forerunner of New Journalism and a founder of the Paris Review (among so, so many other accomplishments), as photographed by Larry Fink. Plimpton, in sunglasses and blowing a smoke ring after tugging a from a freshly lit cigarette, is not only surrounded by beauties and sparkling wine, there looks to be half empty fifth of gin on the table. Were they mixing their own French 75s? The lack of lemons and sugar suggests, in fact, upon closer inspection, it looks like Plimpton may have been drinking the gin himself if the glass nearest him is any indication.
I had the pleasure of meeting Plimpton outside of Elaine’s sometime in the mid 90s. I stepped out of a car to find Plimpton unlocking his bicycle from a pole of the joint’s awning and, lacking a solid opener, impetuously asked “What are you doing riding a bike?”
Plimpton patiently replied, “Oh, it’s the only way to get around Manhattan.”
The venerable scribe could tell I had more on my mind and indulged me with “And what do you do, young man?”
“I’m a small town newspaperman,” I said breathlessly and listed my then Lumaville affiliations.
Plimpton straightened his back and with utter graciousness appraised: “Ah, a colleague.”
What a class act. I felt as if he pinned a deputy’s star on me.
“I’m George Plimpton and you are?” he continued, extending his hand.
He raised an eyebrow: “Well, then Mr. Howell, a pleasure to make your acquaintance, sir.”
With that, he rode into the night, coat tails flapping in the breeze